Charles James Lever.

Charles O'Malley, the Irish dragon online

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soldiering is a bad style of thing, eh ? How the old General did
take his sister-in-law's presence to heart. But he must forgive and
forget, for I'm going to be very great friends with him and Lucy.
Where are you going now ?"

" I'm about to try a new horse before troops," said I. " He's
staunch enough with the cry of the fox-pack in his ears, but I don't
know how he'll stand a peal of artillery."

"Well, come along," said Webber ; " I'll ride with you." So say-
ing, we mounted and set off to the Park, where two regiments of
cavalry and some horse artillery were ordered for inspection.

The review was over when we reached the exercising ground, and
we slowly walked our horses towards the end of the Park, intending
to return to Dublin by the road. We had not proceeded far, when,
some hundred yards in advance, we perceived an officer riding with
a lady, followed by an orderly dragoon.

" There he goes," said Webber; " I wonder if he'd ask me to dinner
if I were to throw myself in his way ?"

" Whom do you mean ?" said I.

" Sir George Dashwood, to be sure, and, la voild, Miss Lucy. The
little darling rides well, too. How squarely she sits her horse.
O'Malley, I've a weakness there ; upon my soul I have."

" Very possible," said I ; " I am aware of another friend of mine
participating in the sentiment."

"One Charles O'Malley, of his Majesty's "

" Nonsense, man — no, no. I mean a very different person, and,
for all I can see, with some reason to hope for success."

" Oh, as to that, we natter ourselves the thing does not present
any very considerable difficulties."

" As how, pray ?"

" Why, of course, like all such matters, a very decisive determina-
tion to be, to do, and to suffer, as Lindley Murray says, carries the
day. Tell her she's an angel every day for three weeks. She may
laugh a little at first, but she'll believe it in the end. Tell her that
you have not the slightest prospect of obtaining her affection, but
still persist in loving her. That, finally, you must die from the
effects of despair, &c, but rather like the notion of it than other-


wise. That you know she has no fortune ; that you haven't a six-
pence ; and who should marry, if people whose position in the world
was similar did not ?"

" But halt ; pray, how are you to get time and place for all such
interesting conversations ?"

" Time and place ! Good heavens, what a question ! Is not every
hour of the twenty-four the fittest? Is not every place the most
suitable ? A sudden pause in the organ of St. Patrick's did, it is
true, catch me once in a declaration of love, but the choir came in to
my aid, and drowned the lady's answer. My dear O'Malley, what
could prevent you this instant, if you are so disposed, from doing the
amiable to the darling Lucy, there ?"

" With the father for an umpire, in case we disagreed," said I.

" Not at all. I should soon get rid of him."

" Impossible, my dear friend."

" Come, now, just for the sake of convincing your obstinacy. If
you like to say good-bye to the little girl without a witness, I'll take
off the he-dragon."

" You don't mean "

" I do, man — I do mean it." So saying, he drew a crimson silk
handkerchief from his pocket, and fastened it round his waist like
an officer's sash. This done, and telling me to keep in their wake
for some minutes, he turned from me, and was soon concealed by a
copse of whitethorn near us.

I hadn't gone above a hundred yards farther when I heard Sir
George's voice calling for the orderly. I looked, and saw Webber at
a considerable distance in front, curveting and playing all species of
antics. The distance between the General and myself was now so
short, that I overheard the following dialogue with his orderly :

" He's not in uniform, then ?"

" No, sir ; he has a round hat."

"A round hat!"

« His sash "

" A sword and sash. This is too bad. I'm determined to find
him out."

" How d'ye do, General ?" cried Webber, as he rode towards the

" Stop, sir !" shouted Sir George.

" Good day, Sir George," replied Webber, retiring.

" Stay where you are, Lucy," said the General, as dashing spurs
into his horse, he sprang forward at a gallop, incensed beyond en-
durance that his most strict orders should be so openly and insult-
ingly transgressed.

Webber led on to a deep hollow, where the road passed between


two smooth slopes, covered with furze trees, and from which it
emerged afterwards in the thickest and most intricate part of the
Park. Sir George dashed boldly after, and in less than half a min-
ute both were lost to my view, leaving me in breathless amazement
at Master Frank's ingenuity, and some puzzle as to my own future

" Now, then, or never," said I, as I pushed boldly forward, and in
an instant was alongside of Miss Dashwood.

Her astonishment at seeing me so suddenly, increased the confu-
sion from which I felt myself suffering, and for some minutes I
could scarcely speak. At last I plucked up courage a little, and
said, —

" Miss Dashwood, I have looked most anxiously, for the last four
days, for the moment which chance has now given me. I wished,
before I parted forever with those to whom I owe already so much,
that I should at least speak my gratitude ere I said good-bye."

" But when do you think of going ?"

" To-morrow. Captain Power, under whose command I am, has
received orders to embark immediately for Portugal."

I thought — perKaps it was but a thought — that her cheek grew
somewhat paler as I spoke ; but she remained silent ; and I, scarcely
knowing what I had said, or whether I had finished, spoke not

" Papa, I'm sure, is not aware," said she, after a long pause, " of
your intention of leaving so soon ; for only last night he spoke of
some letters he meant to give you to some friends in the Peninsula ;
besides, I know" — here she smiled faintly — " that he destined some
excellent advice for your ears, as to your new path in life, for he
has an immense opinion of the value of such to a young officer."

" I am indeed most grateful to Sir George, and truly never did any
one stand more in need of counsel than I do." This was said half
musingly, and not intended to be heard.

" Then, pray, consult papa," said she, eagerly ; " he is much
attached to you, and will, I am certain, do all in his power "

" Alas ! I fear not, Miss Dashwood."

" Why, what can you mean ? Has anything so serious occurred?"

" No, no ; I'm but misleading you, and exciting your sympathy
with false pretences. Should I tell you all the truth, you would not
pardon, perhaps not hear me."

" You have, indeed, puzzled me ; but if there is anything in which
my father "

" Less him than his daughter," said I, fixing my eyes full upon
her as I spoke. " Yes, Lucy, I feel I must confess it, cost what it
may, — I love you. Stay, hear me out. I know the fruitlessness,


the utter despair, that awaits such a sentiment. My own heart tells
me that I am not, cannot be, loved in return ; yet would I rather
cherish in its core my affection slighted and unblessed, such as it is,
than own another heart. I ask for nothing, I hope for nothing ; I
merely entreat that, for my truth, I may meet belief, and for my
heart's worship of her whom alone I can love, compassion. I see
that you at least pity me. Nay, one word more. I have one favor
more to ask ; it is my last, my only one. Do not, when time and
distance may have separated us— perhaps forever— think that the ex-
pressions I now use are prompted by a mere sudden ebullition of boy-
ish feeling— do not attribute to the circumstance of my youth alone
the warmth of the attachment I profess ; for I swear to you, by every
hope I have, that, in my heart of hearts, my love to you is the source
and spring of every action in my life, of every aspiration in my heart ;
and when I cease to love you, I shall cease to feel.

"And now, farewell — farewell forever !" I pressed her hand tc my
lips, gave one long, last look, turned my horse rapidly away, and ere
a minute was far out of sight of where I had left her.



POWER was detained in town by some orders from the Adju-
tant-General, so that I started for Cork the next morning,
with no other companion than my servant Mike. For
the first few stages upon the road, my own thoughts sufficiently
occupied me to render me insensible or indifferent to all else.
My opening career — the prospects my new life as a soldier held out
— my hopes of distinction — my love of Lucy, with all its train of
doubts and fears — passed in review before me, and I took no note
of time till far past noon. I now looked to the back part of the
coach, where Mike's voice had been, as usual, in the ascendant for
some time, and perceived that he was surrounded by an eager audi-
tory of four raw recruits, who, under the care of a sergeant, were
proceeding to Cork to be enrolled in their regiment. The sergeant,
whose minutes of wakefulness were only those when the coach
stopped to change horses and when he got down to mix a "summat
hot," paid little attention to his followers, leaving them perfectly
free in all their movements, to listen to Mike's eloquence, and profit
by his suggestions, should they deem fit. Master Michael's services
to his new acquaintances., I began to perceive, were not exactly of


the same nature as Dibdin is reported to have rendered to our navy
in the late war. Far from it ; his theme was no contemptuous dis-
dain for danger — no patriotic enthusiasm to fight for home and
country — no proud consciousness of British valor, mingled with the
appropriate hatred of our mutual enemies ; on the contrary, Mike's
eloquence was enlisted for the defendant. He detailed, and in no
unimpressive way "either, the hardships of a soldier's life, — its dan-
gers, its vicissitudes, its chances, its possible penalties, its inevitably
small rewards ; and, in fact, so completely did he work on the feel-
ings of his hearers, that I perceived more than one glance exchanged
between the victims, that certainly betokened anything save the
resolve to fight for King George. It was at the close of a long and
most powerful appeal upon the superiority of any other line of life,
petty larceny and small felony inclusive, that he concluded with the
following quotation :
" Thrue for ye, boys !

* With your red scarlet coat,
You're as proud as a goat,

And your long cap and feather.'

But, by the piper that played before Moses ! it's more whipping nor
gingerbread is going on amongst them, av ye knew but all, and
heerd the misfortune that happened to my father."

"And was he a sodger ?" inquired one.

" Troth was he — more sorrow to him ; and wasn't he a'most
whipped one day, for doing what he was bid ?"

" Musha, but that was hard."

" To be sure it was hard ; but, faix, when my father seen that
they didn't know their own minds, he thought, anyhow, he knew
his, so he ran away, and devil a bit of him they ever cotch afther.
Maybe ye might like to hear the story, and there's instruction in it
for yez too."

A general request to this end being preferred by the company,
Mike took a shrewd look at the sergeant, to be sure that he was
still sleeping, settled his coat comfortably across his knees, and
began :

" Well, it's a good many years ago my father 'listed in the North
Cork, just to oblige Mr. Barry, the landlord there ; > for,' says he,
1 Phil,' says he, ' it's not a soldier ye'll be at all, but my own man, to
brush my clothes and go errands, and the like o' that; and the King,
— long life to him ! — will help to pay ye for your trouble. Ye under-
stand me ?' Well, my father agreed, and Mr. Barry was as good as
his word. Never a guard did my father mount, nor as much as a
drill had he, nor a roll-call, nor anything at all, save and except


wait on the Captain, his master, just as pleasant as need be, and no
inconvenience in life.

" Well, for three years this went on as I am telling, and the regi-
ment was ordered down to Bantry, because of a report that the
' boys' was rising down there ; and the second evening there was a
night party patrolling with Captain Barry for six hours in the rain,
and the Captain — God be marciful to him ! — tuk cowld and died ;
more by token, they said it was drink, but my father says it wasn't ;
' for,' says he, ' after he tuk eight tumblers comfortable,' my father
mixed the ninth, and the Captain waved his hand this way, as much
as to say he'd have no more. ' Is it that ye mean ?' says my father.
And the Captain nodded. ' Musha, but it's sorry I am/ says my
father, * to see you this way, for ye must be bad entirely to leave off
in the beginning of the evening.' And thrue for him, the Captain
was dead in the morning.

"A sorrowful day it was for my father when he died. It was the
finest place in the world ; little to do ; plenty of divarsion ; and a
kind man he was — when he was drunk. Well, then, when the Cap-
tain was buried and all was over, my father hoped they'd be for
letting him away, as he said, ' Sure, I'm no use in life to anybody,
save the man that's gone, for his ways are all I know, and I never
was a sodger.' But, upon my conscience, they had other thoughts
in their heads ; for they ordered him into the ranks to be drilled
just like the recruits they took the day before.

" ' Musha, isn't this hard ?' said my father. Here I am, an ould
vitrin that ought to be discharged on a pension, with two-and-six-
pence a day, obliged to go capering about the barrack-yard, prac-
tising the goose-step, or some other nonsense not becoming my age
nor my habits.' But so it was. Well, this went on for some time,
and, sure, if they were hard on my father, hadn't he his revenge,
for he nigh broke their hearts with his stupidity. Oh ! nothing in
life could equal him ; devil a thing, no matter how easy, he could
learn at all, and so far from caring for being in confinement, it was
that he liked best. Every sergeant in the regiment had a trial of
him, but all to no good ; and he seemed striving so hard to learn
all the while that they were loath to punish him, the ould rogue !

" This was going on for some time, when one day news came in
that a body of the rebels, as they called them, was coming down
from the Gap of Mulnavick to storm the town and burn all before
them. The whole regiment was of course under arms, and great
preparations were made for a battle. Meanwhile, patrols were or-
dered to scour the roads, and sentries posted at every turn of the
way and every rising ground to give warning when the boys came
in sight ; and my father was placed at the Bridge of Drumsnag, in


the wildest and bleakest part of the whole country, with nothing hut
furze mountains on every side, and a straight road going over the
top of them.

" ' This is pleasant/ says my father, as soon as they left him there
alone by himself, with no human creature to speak to, nor a whisky-
shop within ten miles of him ; ' cowld comfort,' says he, ' on a win-
ter's day, and faix, but I have a mind to give ye the slip.'

" Well, he put his gun down on the bridge, and he lit his pipe,
and he sat down under an ould tree and began to ruminate upon
his affairs.

" ' Oh, then, it's wishing it well I am/ says he, ' for sodgering ;
and bad luck to the hammer that struck the shilling that 'listed me,
that's all/ for he was mighty low in his heart.

" Just then a noise came rattling down near him. He listened,
and, before he could get on his legs, down comes the General, ould
Cohoon, with an orderly after him.

" ' Who goes that?' says my father.

" ' The round/ says the General, looking about all the time to
see where was the sentry, for my father was snug under the tree.

" ' What round ?' says my father.

" ' The grand round/ says the General, more puzzled than afore.

" ' Pass on, grand round, and God save you kindly 1' says my
father, putting his pipe in his mouth again, for he thought all was

" D — n your soul, where are you ?' says the General, for sorra
bit of my father could he see yet.

" ' It's here I am/ says he, ' and a cowld place I have of it ; and if
it wasn't for the pipe I'd be lost entirely.'

" The words wasn't well out of his mouth when the General began
laughing till ye'd think he'd fall off his horse ; and the dragoon be-
hind him — more by token, they say it wasn't right for him — laughed
as loud as himself.

" ' Yer a droll sentry/ says the General, as soon as he could

"'Be-gorra, it's little fun there's left in me/ says my father,
' with this drilling, and parading, and blackguarding about the
roads all night.'

" 'And is this the way you salute your officer ?' says the General.

" ' Just so/ says my father ; ' devil a more politeness ever they
taught me.'

" ' What regiment do you belong to ?' says the General.

" ' The North Cork, bad luck to them !' says my father, with a

" ' They ought to be proud of ye/ says the General.


" ' I'm sorry for it/ says my father, sorrowfully, l for maybe they'll
keep me the longer/

" ' Well, my good fellow/ says the General, ' I haven't more time
to waste here ; but let me teach you something before I go. When-
ever your officer passes, it's your duty to present to him.'

" 'Arrah, it's jokin' ye are/ says my father.

" ■ No, I'm in earnest,' says he, • as ye might learn, to your cost,
if I brought you to a court-martial.'

" ' Well, there's no knowing/ says my father, * what they'd be up
to ; but sure, if that's all, I'll do it, with all " the veins," whenever
yer coming this way again.'

" The General began to laugh again here ; but said, —

" ' I'm coming back in the evening/ says he, ■ and mind you don't
forget your respects to your officer.'

" ' Never fear, sir/ says my father : ' and many thanks to you for
your kindness for telling me.'

"Away went the General, and the orderly after him, and in ten
minutes they were out of sight.

" The night was falling fast, and one half of the mountain was
quite dark already, when my father began to think they were for-
getting him entirely. He looked one way, and he looked another,
but sorra bit of a sergeant's guard was coming to relieve him. There
he was, fresh and fasting, and daren't go for the bare life. ' I'll give
you a quarter of an hour more/ says my father, ' till the light leaves
that rock up there ; after that/ says he, ■ by the mass ! I'll be off, av it
cost me what it may.'

" Well, sure enough, his courage was not needed this time ; for
what did he see at the same moment, but a shadow of something
coming down the road opposite the bridge. He looked again ; and
then he made out the General himself, that was walking his horse
down the steep part of the mountain, followed by the orderly. My
father immediately took up his musket off the wall, settled his belts,
shook the ashes out of his pipe, and put it into his pocket, making
himself as smart and neat-looking as he could be, determining, when
ould Cohoon came up, to ask him for leave to go home, at least for
the night. Well, by this time the General was turning a sharp part
of the cliff that looks down upon the bridge, from where you might
look five miles round on every side. 'He sees me/ says my father;
'but I'll be just as quick as himself.' No sooner said than done ;
for, coming forward to the parapet of the bridge, he up with his
musket to his shoulder, and presented it straight at the General. It
wasn't well there, when the officer pulled up his horse quite short,
and shouted out, ' Sentry ! sentry !'

" ' Anan?' said my father, still covering him.


" ' Down with your musket, you rascal. Don't you see it's the
grand round ?'

" ' To be sure I do,' says my father, never changing for a minute.

" ' The ruffian will shoot me,' says the General.

" ' Devil a fear,' says my father, ' av it doesn't go off of itself.'

" ' What do you mean by that, you villain ?' says the General,
scarcely able to speak with fright, for, every turn he gave on his
horse, my father followed with the gun — ' what do you mean ?'

" ' Sure, ain't I presenting?' says my father, f- Blood an' ages ! do
you want me to fire next?'

" With that the General drew a pistol from his holster, and took
deliberate aim at my father ; and there they both stood for five min-
utes, looking at each other, the orderly all the while breaking his
heart laughing behind a rock ; for, ye see, the General knew av he
retreated that my father might fire on purpose, and, av he came on,
that he might fire by chance; and sorra bit he knew what was best
to be done.

" ' Are ye going to pass the evening up there, grand round?' says
my father ; \ for it's tired I'm getting houldin' this so long.'

" ' Port arms !' shouted the General, as if on parade.

" ' Sure I can't, till yer past,' says my father, angrily, ' and my
hand's trembling already.'

" ' By heavens ! I shall be shot,' says the General.

" ' Be-gorra, it's what I'm afraid of,' says my father ; and the
words wasn't out of his mouth before off went the musket — bang —
and down fell the General, smack on the ground, senseless. Well,
the orderly ran out at this, and took him up and examined his
wound ; but it wasn't a wound at all, only the wadding of the gun ;
for my father — God be kind to him ! — ye see, could do nothing
right; and so he bit off the wrong end of the cartridge when he put
it in the gun, and, by reason, there was no bullet in it. Well, from
that day after they never got a sight of him ; for the instant that
the General dropped, he sprang over the bridge-wall and got away ;
and what between living in a lime-kiln for two months, eating
nothing but blackberries and sloes, and other disguises, he never
returned to the army, but ever after took to a civil situation, and
driv a hearse for many years."

How far Mike's narrative might have contributed to the support
of his theory, I am unable to pronounce ; for his auditory were, at
some distance from Cork, made to descend from their lofty position,
and join a larger body of recruits, all proceeding to the same desti-
nation, under a strong escort of infantry. For ourselves, we reached
the " beautiful city" in due time, and took up our quarters at the
Old George Hotel.




THE undress rehearsal of a new piece, with its dirty-booted
actors, its cloaked and hooded actresses en papillote, bears
about the same relation to the gala, wax-lit, and bespangled
ballet as the raw young gentleman of yesterday to the epauletted,
belted, and sabretasched dragoon, whose transformation is due to a
few hours of headquarters, and a few interviews with the adjutant.

So, at least, I felt it ; and it was with a very perfect concurrence
in his Majesty's taste in a uniform, and a most entire approval of
the regimental tailor, that I strutted down George's street a few days
after my arrival in Cork. The transports had not as yet come round ;
there was a great doubt of their doing so for a week or so longer ;
and I found myself, as the dashing Cornet, the centre of a thousand
polite attentions and most kind civilities.

The officer under whose orders I was placed for the time was a
great friend of Sir George Dashwood's, and paid me, in consequence,
much attention. Major Dalrymple had been on the staff from the
commencement of his military career — had served in the Commis-
sariat for some time — was much on foreign stations, but never, by
any of the many casualties of his life, had seen what could be called
service. His idea of the soldier's profession was, therefore, what
might almost be as readily picked up by a commission in the battle-axe
guards, as one in his Majesty's 50th. He was now a species of distinct
paymaster employed in a thousand ways, either inspecting recruits,
examining accounts, revising sick certificates, or receiving contracts
for mess beef. Whether the nature of his manifold occupations had
enlarged the sphere of his talents and ambition, or whether the
abilities had suggested the variety of his duties, I know not ; but
truly the Major was a man of all work. No sooner did a young en-
sign join his regiment at Cork, than Major Dalrymple's card was
left at his quarters ; the next day came the Major himself; the third
brought an invitation to dinner; on the fourth he was told to drop
in, in the evening ; and from thenceforward he was the ami de la
maison, in company with numerous others as newly-fledged and in-

Online LibraryCharles James LeverCharles O'Malley, the Irish dragon → online text (page 16 of 80)